Fellows, Birmingham, January 31 2017
Sold for £27,000
I doubt there’s a single reader who wouldn’t recognise a Rolex Submariner at 10 paces (assuming they weren’t clocking one of the myriad watches from other makers which have been “inspired” by the design), but the watch that went before it deserves equal appreciation. And that’s the Turn-o-Graph, which was introduced in 1953 with the ingenious feature of a rotating outer bezel.
As with most Rolex creations, the Turn-o-Graph was born for purely practical reasons in as much as the graduated bezel enabled the watch to be used for basic elapsed time recording, thus presenting a more affordable alternative to a conventional, push-button chronograph. Indeed, many regard the ground-breaking invention to represent the beginnings of the tool watch era since it led to the creation of the Submariner dive watch and, later, the GMT Master dual time model.
The early Submariner was, in fact, more or less a Turn-o-Graph with a different name and rather better water resistance – which perhaps explains why early “James Bond” Subs didn’t have crown guards.
The original Turn-o-Graph was made in just a few thousand examples before it diversified into special models such as the Turn-o-Graph Thunderbird and on to the aforementioned GMT Master, Submariner etc., only to be phased out before the end of the decade (although the name was reintroduced on a new Datejust model a few years ago).
An original Turn-o-Graph is, therefore, relatively rare – which made lot 222 in this Fellows sale particularly interesting, because it was an unusual variation on the Turn-o-Graph theme called a Monometer. The name was registered in 1953 and Monometers carried the same reference number – 6202 – as the Turn-o-Graph from which the model was derived.
Plain black or Milgauss-style honeycomb dials were available, with precious few of either being manufactured. The Fellows watch was fitted with the possibly more desirable honeycomb version and looked to be in good, patinated, original condition. Unsurprisingly, it exceeded its £25,000 high estimate.
In summary: A truly rare Rolex that seldom becomes available on the open market.
Simon de Burton